Serena Williams shaping up nicely after fourth Wimbledon title
She has passed Billie Jean King's record of 12 Grand Slam titles and now has only Margaret Smith, Steffi Graf, Helen Wills Moody, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert ahead of her on the all-time list of champions.
For Serena Williams, however, there is another reason why she stays in the shape that has seen her win five of the last eight Grand Slam tournaments.
“It sounds ridiculous but I mostly do it because I want to look good,” Williams said after winning her fourth Wimbledon title by beating Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-2 in Saturday's final on Centre Court.
“When I'm running I'm not thinking about winning Wimbledon, I'm thinking about looking good when I'm wearing my bikini. It keeps me extremely motivated.
Williams won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 1999 and her sixth at Wimbledon in 2003. In the next four years, as her off-court interests in fashion and acting developed in inverse proportion to her fitness, the American had just two Australian Open titles to show from the Grand Slam events.
On Saturday, however, having rediscovered both her focus and her fitness, Williams' rule at the top of the women's game is all but unchallenged, even by her sister, Venus, who has not won a Grand Slam title for two years.
The Belgian comeback queens, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, may provide some sort of threat in tournaments to come, but there is little sign of any other challenge to Serena's dominance.
Williams said she never gave much thought to chasing King's record and does not have her eyes set on any other milestones, such as the 18 Grand Slam titles won by both Navratilova and Evert. “I never really thought about my place in history, so to say, because then if I do that I become complacent,” she said.
“I don't think I would feel I had anything else to prove if I thought to myself: ‘Wow, I won all those Aussie Opens and all that. That's pretty good. What? I'm still playing?' I don't want to think about all that. I just focus on the moment. I live for the day, on the tennis court.”
The Williams sisters have won nine of the last 11 Wimbledons, Maria Sharapova (in 2004) and Amelie Mauresmo (in 2006) being the only two players who have denied them since the turn of the century.
Serena is now only one win away from her sister's Wimbledon tally. “That would be cool to equal her,” she said.
“I just want to keep our name on that board, just keep our name going, that's kind of cool.
“Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams every year is pretty.”